Ong Sor Fern Senior Culture Correspondent recommends

Arts Picks: Stories That Matter: Shroud

STORIES THAT MATTER: SHROUD: A selection of the images (above) will be installed at Objectifs' courtyard.
STORIES THAT MATTER: SHROUD: A selection of the images (above) will be installed at Objectifs' courtyard. PHOTO: OBJECTIFS
STORIES THAT MATTER: SHROUD: A selection of the images will be installed at Objectifs' courtyard (above).
STORIES THAT MATTER: SHROUD: A selection of the images will be installed at Objectifs' courtyard (above). PHOTO: OBJECTIFS
ESPLANADE PRESENTS PENTAS 2020: GADING: Veteran Malay arts troupe Sriwana (above) is marking its 65th birthday this year.
ESPLANADE PRESENTS PENTAS 2020: GADING: Veteran Malay arts troupe Sriwana (above) is marking its 65th birthday this year.PHOTO: SRIWANA AND THE ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY
IN OUR MANNER OF SPEAKING: THE AIDS QUILT SONGBOOK: Poet Cyril Wong (left) and composer Chen Zhangyi (right) have written a song, Viral Lode.
IN OUR MANNER OF SPEAKING: THE AIDS QUILT SONGBOOK: Poet Cyril Wong (left) and composer Chen Zhangyi (right) have written a song, Viral Lode.PHOTOS: HASAN ELAHI

STORIES THAT MATTER: SHROUD

How would you react if the Federal Bureau of Investigation pulled you into an interrogation after a flight and kept investigating you intermittently for six months?

Bangladesh-born American artist Hasan Elahi responded by creating a website that tracked his every move, with links to hundreds of thousands of photographs he shoots of his everyday routine.

Tracking Transience went live after his ordeal in 2002 and, in a 2011 TEDTalk (str.sg/JNqW), he said he had posted some 46,000 images on it.

The work presents provocative questions about privacy and surveillance. In his TEDTalk, Elahi points out that his website predated social media. Today, everyone tweets/posts with nary a thought about how GPS tags pinpoint one's location.

Issues of privacy are just now being discussed in the mainstream. Elahi's position is that by offering an avalanche of mundane "noise" about his routine, he can actually lead a relatively private life - a counterpoint to current privacy anxieties.

A selection of the images will be installed at Objectifs' courtyard. Unfortunately, Elahi's talk has been cancelled.

The installation is part of Objectifs' annual Stories That Matter programme. This year, the theme is Who Cares, which co-curator Chelsea Chua says is "a phrase that operates as a question as well as a statement".

With co-curator Nurul Huda Rashid, Chua says they are aiming to "broaden the conversation around ethics in documentary-making, to encompass ideas of care and responsibility on the part of artists, photographers and film-makers towards their subjects and audiences".

"Conversely, we wanted to address the implications of viewing and by extension, surveilling, especially in a time of social media and big data."

The film screenings component has been postponed to June, but Shroud and the workshops will continue this month.

WHERE: Courtyard at Objectifs, 155 Middle Road

MRT: Bras Basah/Bencoolen

WHEN: Till May 3

ADMISSION: Free

INFO: str.sg/JNqA


ESPLANADE PRESENTS PENTAS 2020: GADING

Veteran Malay arts troupe Sriwana is marking its 65th birthday this year with this adventurous dance performance, with dramaturgy by theatre stalwart Aidli Mosbit.

Gading (Malay for "ivory") explores the fate of elephants. The choreography is inspired by traditional Malay dance movements and the story takes inspiration from Malay culture.

Resident choreographers Zannury Zakarea, Aziela Abdul Rahim and Juhari Zaid will perform alongside the company's dancers.

WHERE: Esplanade Theatre Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive

MRT: Esplanade

WHEN: Today and tomorrow, 8pm

ADMISSION: $25

INFO: str.sg/JNfd


IN OUR MANNER OF SPEAKING: THE AIDS QUILT SONGBOOK

For the second edition of their recital series In Our Manner Of Speaking, home-grown opera group The Opera People has opted to do the Aids Quilt Songbook.

This cycle of art songs was first assembled by baritone William Parker in the early 1990s, as the gay community was gripped by the terrors of a then new and fatal disease.

Beyond just performing the repertoire, The Opera People has commissioned a Singaporean take. Poet Cyril Wong and composer Chen Zhangyi have written a song, Viral Lode.

Wong says the lyrics are about "one half of a couple worrying about his lover after discovering that the latter has been diagnosed with the illness, and grappling to hold on to the ordinariness of everyday reality, treasuring the present moment for as long as he can, just before his lover comes to pick him up in a car. It's an ordinary moment captured in a poem, a moment tinged with panic but also an opportunity for courage".

The poet adds that the songbook is still relevant today, although Aids is no longer a death sentence. "In my mind, it's about the importance of remembering where we came from in dealing with this illness - the people who suffered and died before medical advancements were possible, for example - and not to take for granted that even today, it is still an illness that can divide and marginalise people."

The performers include local opera stalwarts Akiko Otao and David Charles Tay.

WHERE: The Studio @ Wild Rice, 04-08 Funan Mall, 107 North Bridge Road

MRT: City Hall

WHEN: March 21, 5 and 8pm, and March 22, 5pm

ADMISSION: $28

INFO: str.sg/JNqs

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2020, with the headline 'Arts Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe